We traveled US 20 most of today. It is designated as the longest road in the US spanning some 3,365 miles from Boston to Newport Oregon. Except for the section of US 20 that runs along Lake Erie that we traveled when we left Erie, this is the first time we've been on this highway in our travels. The original road began in Albany and headed west as a toll road or turnpike at the end of the 18th century. The First Great Western Turnpike Corporation was chartered in 1799 to build a road from Albany, the capital of New York, to the Revolutionary War frontier town of Cherry Valley. In 1803, a second corporation, the Third Great Western Turnpike, was chartered to further extend the road to Cazenovia. The Third Great Western Turnpike was completed as planned by 1811 and was heavily used by people trying to establish new settlements in central New York. The two turnpikes became to be known as the Cherry Valley Turnpike. It became a stagecoach route in 1816. The Cherry Valley Turnpike name was also later applied to an untolled extension of the road west to Skaneateles.
The establishment of the Erie Canal and the Utica and Schenectady Railroad slowly ate away at the revenues of the Cherry Valley Turnpike. The turnpike stopped being a toll road in 1857. The state took over the maintenance of highways at the beginning of the 20th century and began paving many roads across the state. In 1926 the road was designated as US 20 and paving and other improvements continued until the late 1930's. It became the major route across the state from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania until the New York State Thruway was completed in the 1950's. Travel across NY had come full circle from turnpike to the Thruway, a new toll road.
The route we traveled today skirted the northern end of all of the Finger Lakes. We passed through Geneva on the shores of Seneca Lake where Kyle competed in his first triathlon. We drove up to cheer him on in the pre-Winnie days. The Finger Lakes region is a beautiful part on NY state. When I looked at the route on Google Maps last night, the terrain features did not appear to be too challenging. I was wrong. Once we got east of Skaneateles the hills gave poor Winnie a pretty good workout. There were a few where we were in low gear and our speed was 25 mph. According to the people at the Ciderhouse Campground where we are staying for the next couple of days we been through the worst of the hills. We'll see when we move on.
There is a lot of history along the route. Waterloo, NY is the birthplace of Memorial Day and was designated so by Lyndon Johnson in 1966. This year was the 150th anniversary of the first Memorial Day in Waterloo. The main street is decorated with banners and flowers celebrating the event. Seneca Falls was the site of the first women's right convention, Seneca Falls Convention, in 1848. The event is commemorated by the Women's Rights National Historic Park. Seneca Falls is also said to be the inspiration for the fictional town of “Bedford Falls”, portrayed in filmmaker Frank Capra’s classic 1946 film "It’s a Wonderful life". Bouckville where we are staying was the birthplace of Mott's, the apple sauce people, when Samuel R. Mott built a mill there in 1842 to make cider and vinegar. Bouckville is the birthplace of Darwin Martin who commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to build Graycliff, the house we visited on the shores of Lake Erie a couple of weeks ago. It's also the home of Antique Week in August when over 2,000 antique sellers congregate at the various show fields in Bouckville and Madison just down the road. We'll miss Antique Week by a couple of weeks. We're also about 40 miles from Cooperstown. I'm not a big baseball fan, but it's one of those must see destinations when you are close. Stay tuned.